Indian languages on internet, the tipping point has arrived

Today’s Financial Express article “INDIAN LANGUAGES IN THE DIGITAL WORLD: Language No Barrier” talks about the Indian languages in various mediums – print, TV and internet mobile.

  • Local languages dominate in both the print media and the audio-visual media (TV, movies, radio).
  • Hollywood has found it lucrative to dub movies in local languages to grow their market share.
  • The presence of Local language in the digital world is very low.

We will witness a sharp increase in usage of local language on the internet because,

  • PC penetration is estimated to be of the order of 38% across SEC A, B and C segments
  • Just three years back this figure was just 19%
  • PC penetration is on the rise
  • The drivers of this surge in PC penetration are the falling prices of PCs and laptops, combined with growing income levels.
  • Currently India has about 80 million internet users, expected to be 400 million by 2021
  • Other devices like the mobile phones, tablets are being used to access content which will out number the PC population.
  • Mobile phone penetration is very high, has caught up with TV penetration.

Why language content will do well on the internet?

  • English accounts for less than 10% of the consumption in print, TV films.
  • The demand for local language content on the internet is bound to play out exactly as it has in other media and content creation is bound to explode.
  • In 2007 a survey conducted by Juxt showed the demand for local language was high in South India which accounts to 40% of the Internet population.
  • In 2009 Juxt survey showed 60% of them prefer to read local language but only 12% were actually reading local language content (out of a potential base of 15 million, only 3 million check). The survey further found that 13% (6 million) of the total Internet users prefer to read online content in English. This means that there are close to 87% (41 million) people who do not prefer English

The article concludes very appropriately,

The Internet and mobile population in India has reached a critical mass indicates that the tipping point for economic viability of local language content has been reached. This and the fact that convergence is a reality that is pushing the demand for content in many ways, in our opinion, clearly indicates that the next few years are likely to see an explosion of local language content in India.

The increase in usage of Unicode fonts, better indexing of language content by Google, Indian language mobile apps (e.g. Newshunt) has increased the reach of language content on the internet.

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